SunEdison to wipe out $336 million in debt, while partnership buys stake in Dominion solar portfolio


Amid a restructuring prompted by a crash in stock prices this summer, SunEdison CEO Ahmad Chatila vowed in November to make the world's largest renewable energy developer a more “boring” company, including reducing its debt. And while SunEdison remains anything but boring, the company is making progress on debt reduction.

This morning SunEdison announced a deal whereby it will exchange US$336 million in outstanding notes due 2020 for a combination in equity in projects under development and class A shares of yieldco TerraForm Power, thus wiping this debt off its balance sheet.

At the end of the third quarter of this year SunEdison had a debt-to-equity ratio of 8.325, which analysts have noted is well above average.

Simultaneously, the company has announced that a partnership with clients advised by JP Morgan will buy a 33% stake in 15 operating solar projects totaling 336 MW-DC from Virginia power company Dominion. Terra Nova Renewable Partners will pay $180 million plus a working capital adjustment.

This purchase is the first of two phases of a deal announced in September 2015. In the second phase Terra Nova plans to buy the remaining nine projects in the portfolio totaling 231 MW-DC, and SunEdison expects this phase to close in early 2016. The 24 projects are spread across the United States in six different states.

Through the partnership, J.P. Morgan's clients are expected to provide equity to purchase projects, with remaining costs funded through a combination of limited-recourse bank debt and tax equity, a solution that would limits SunEdison's outlay of its precious cash resources.

Despite this degree of insulation, SunEdison immediately sold its share of the purchase to TerraNova, but retained the option to buy assets held by the partnership within five years. Terra Nova already owns 633 MW-AC of wind assets.

The partnership has the option to purchase Dominion's remaining 67% share in the solar projects if “certain triggering events” occur. SunEdison notes that it may drop these projects down to TerraForm Power.

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